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Monday, 5 June, 2000, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
Dame Vera to unveil Dunkirk plaque
The flotilla of Little Ships are returning home
Forces' sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn is set to unveil a Dunkirk memorial plaque.

Singer Dame Vera, who was then a 21-year-old singer in London's theatreland, and cheered battle-torn troops with songs such as We'll Meet Again, and The White Cliffs of Dover, will unveil the memorial in Ramsgate.
But she said she could not remember the evacuation, when more than 300,000 British and Allied troops were plucked to safety from the beaches at the French port, where they were surrounded by advancing Nazi forces.

The then Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, described the evacuation as a "miracle".

But Dame Vera said: "To be honest it was just another blur in all the bombing as far as I was concerned. I was so busy dashing around London from the theatre and to my radio broadcast, Sincerely Yours.

"But when I found out what had happened, like everyone else, I thought it was so tragic for those that did not come back.

"And also it was so wonderful and brave of the crews of the Little Ships to go over and rescue so many of our boys."

The plaque, in honour of the East Kent Dunkirk Veterans' Association and the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, will have pride of place at East Kent Maritime Museum, at the Royal Harbour, Ramsgate.

Final salute

The flotilla of Little Ships which went to Dunkirk on Friday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the evacuation, has set off on the return journey to Ramsgate.

The veteran boats, ranging from luxury yachts to fishing trawlers, are due to reach British shores by 1530 BST where they will be welcomed by Dame Vera.

Rob Stokes, secretary of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, which organised the event, said the forecast predicted rain but no wind for the journey.

"This will be fine for the crossing, even though a few people will get wet," he said.
soldiers
The daring rescue saved 338,000 soldiers
The unveiling ceremony comes a day after surviving veterans of Dunkirk shared their memories with the Prince of Wales at the last official commemoration of the heroism of the operation.

The prince took the salute then visited Pegasus Bridge in Normandy to pay tribute to the Allied Forces who took part in the D-Day invasion four years after Dunkirk.

In Dunkirk, hundreds of British veterans who were among the 338,226 troops rescued from the beaches stood in formation, their medals glittering in the sunshine.

About 700 marched past the prince outside the town hall, while another 100, who were unable to march, watched with the crowd.

One veteran, Walter Darvill, 81, from Pontefract, West Yorkshire, collapsed and died as he joined hundreds of fellow ex-servicemen for the Dunkirk commemoration.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Carole Jones
"An emotional but dignified farewell"
Prof. Michael Dockrill, historian
"Men who survived the most appalling experience"
See also:

04 Jun 00 | UK
02 Jun 00 | UK
02 Jun 00 | UK
02 Jun 00 | Dunkirk
15 May 00 | UK
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